Intruder, AKG 702, Grado RS1i, and (somewhat) Arrow 2.2G Impressions
Originally Posted by tvolpe1600
Also, how does the Intruder couple with your K702s? I have 650s and K702s as well.
tvolpe1600. So I'm spending some quality time with the 702s. I am listening to them stock. Single ended cable. No mods. These were my first quality headphones. My lovely bride bought them for me for our fifth Anniversary. (She's a good woman) ;-) The thing that I liked about them (as I was/am learning this hobby) is the soundstage width and separation. I could generally hear the different instruments and each location seemed to be identifiable apart from the others. For my evaluations I like to use Kansas and Steely Dan. Kansas I have known since I was 5, and Steely Dan was my first "surprise" when I got good headphones and could hear things I have never heard before. The things that I wasn't crazy about with the 702s is I feet they had a limited bass impact and a slight veil over the clarity.
This morning for my Intruder listening session, I put on Down the Road by Kansas from Song for America. I have been trying to learn this on guitar, so it has gotten plenty of airtime this year. I put it on and turned it up. Through the intruder it sounds great, is a totally rocking song. No disappointments. Then the test. After DtR, the next track is Song for America. This song starts off with a driving bass riff by Dave Hole that he keeps up through the whole piece. The intruder gives it the remembered wide soundstage and instrument identification. And it seemed that the bass was a little better than I remembered. Bass guitar is right up front in the track, with piano in the right ear, organ in the left ear, acoustic guitar left, violin center. To me the stars of this are the bass, piano, organ, violin and Steve Walsh's soaring vocals. Not as much space for the guitars to shine here.
My impressions of the 702 were more positive with the Intruder than I remember the headphones sounding. So I wondered why. Then I pulled out the Headstage Arrorow 2.2G. This was my first amp and I initially got it to go with the 702s. With Song for America, the difference was immediately noticeable. The soundstage was more closed in and congested with the Arrow. The bass felt more bloated (what I call flabby), and not quite as clear. When I was listening to SfA through the Arrow, I got the vision of big ole smothering hug from an over-sized and overzealous aunt in a knitted sweater. Sorry for the visual but that is how it sounded. All settings on the Arrow neutral - mid gain.
Then I switched back to the Intruder and started to write this up and more listening. 702 pairs very well with the Intruder. Next on the to-do list for the 702s is to try the Friend or Foe mod a friend told me about at a meet. http://www.head-fi.org/t/411268/the-akg-k701-friend-or-foe-mods-that-may-help-others Maybe sometime I will get them recabled and balanced as well. We'll see.
Now I have just switched back to the Grado RS1i with the intruder. Single Ended, no mods yet. The clarity with the Grados are still king for me. But I like things a little on the bright side apparently. Bass guitar sounds as good as the 702. Presentation is more closed in and personal. The Grado sound. I wish they were a little more expanded, but I still like these best over the 702s. Next week I am going to try to get the Grados balanced at Moon Audio. I hope for good things from that mod.
fyi. all music 320 CBR with mp3 gain@90 db album gain on ipod touch>Silver Dragon LOD>Intruder/Arrow>702/RS1i. Intruder and Arrow mid gain.
Round 2. Stream of consciousness. Second cup of coffee, and I've moved on to something more recently recorded. Put on Machine Head's Unto Locust. Started it out with the Grados for reference then switched to the AKG 702s. Wow. No disappointments here. The bass impact from the 702s is stellar. Full, deep, and driving. The tuned down guitar chug is really presented well and the bass frequencies to high presentation is top notch. Checking out JJ Grey & Mofro's Somebody Else from their new album The River. Awesome groove and feel. Would still like to have a little more clarity on the horns and shimmering guitar. But that is what I would have to search for with a 702 mod and maybe cables. However, switching back to Machine Head for song #2 Be Still and Know starts with guitar high notes riffage. That has great highs without any harshness. Maybe this should be my Heavy Metal headphone? Yup. Put on Iron Maiden's Wasted Years. That is what the intro of Be Still and Know reminded me of. Same impressions. Sounds great. Still wish there was slightly more clarity. Back to Machine Head for the rest of the Locust album. Confirmed, that this may be a great newly-recorded-Metal Headphone. The whole Locust album sounds full, deep, well done. I liked the sound more than the older recording from Maiden. Mastodon - Crack the Skye - Obliviion sounds great on both 702 and RS1i. 702 provides a Small Club feel with the spaciousness. Mastodon - The Hunter - Black Tongue makes me turn it up more. I think the 702 sounds better with new material, where they aren't trying to do tricky things with instrument placement. Full frontal assault of Rock! Like I said, the Mastodon sounds like I'm seeing them in a few hundred capacity club. Curl of the Burl makes me stop writing and listen! Clutch - Earth Rocker - Turned up like previous songs. OMG! Buy this album. Maximum Riffage. Black Sabbath - 13 - End of the Beginning and God is Dead = Stellar... Give me the wine, you keep the bread... Black Country Communion - free DL 256vbr from BCC2 - Outsider, IMMEDIATELY sounded veiled and congested over Bonamassa's guitar and Glen Hughes' vocals. Had to switch back to Grados for this one. Black Country Communion - Afterglow - (back to 320 CBR) has same sound on 702s. Congested and veiled. Maybe that is how Kevin Shirley produces it. But the Grado is definitely preferred for BCC.
The Intruder sounds fantastic with the AKG 702s with some source material. I like the 702 more with the Intruder than I did with the Arrow. The Bass does sound much much better with the Intruder. The 702s still have a veil over the clarity. But that isn't the Intruder's fault. The soundstage with the Intruder is much better than the Arrow. I will try some inexpensive mods for the 702, but will I spend significant money on them to chase the clarity? Don't know.
Grado RS1i are still my favorite for sound, clarity,and FUN even though they present a closer soundstage. Going to go balanced next week. (I hope). Lets see what that does.
And contemplating my next headphone. Don't know what I want. Something as "fun" as the Grados with a better soundstage but same clarity? Am i asking for diametrically opposite things? Any suggestions from anyone?
But I do know that I love the Intruder. Seems to provide the foundation to grow my headphone collection from. Thank you Ray!